TONY’S TIME - RICHARD GODWIN
Someone had snuffed out Tony and none of us knew who.
Tony the big shot, Tony the fighter, the ladies’ man, the smart ass. He was popular and handsome and everyone looked up to him.
He’d always known how to take care of himself, could handle a bar fight better than any of us and he never went anywhere without a gun.
And there he was, lying in Harry’s basement with his head hanging off, only a thin piece of vein dangling weakly from the severed flesh.
‘Who the fuck did this?’ Harry said. ‘I’ll kill him. Tony taught me everything I know.’
‘He was the best,’ I said, looking around the room for signs of breaking and entering. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll find out.’
Harry was too upset to do anything right then and sat down heavily on the sofa and poured himself a whisky.
I took the opportunity to look around.
There were no signs of anyone forcing their way in and nothing seemed out of order in the flat.
‘He had a key?’ I said.
‘Yeah, he used to come here when I was away on business. I didn’t mind him bringing women round, you know Tony.’
‘What did Samantha say about it?’
‘She didn’t like it.’
‘You know Sam, she’s a real Catholic.’
‘I grew up with her, remember?’
‘I know. I mean, when most people say they’re Catholic, it’s a pose. With Sam, she’s serious about it.’
I went into the bedroom.
A stale smell but nothing out of order.
It was when I was about to leave that I saw it, just a blur of white peeping out at me.
A pair of knickers under the bed, a smear of red on the crotch.
I left the flat before Harry got a chance to say anything.
The snow had started to fall and I walked round to the café where Samantha worked and found her at the back.
I’d known her since sixth grade and could read her pretty well. I knew she wasn’t the type to screw around.
‘What happened?’ I said.
She narrowed her eyes.
‘He came onto me.’
‘No. He wouldn’t have done that. Level with me.’
‘I tell Harry what I saw under the bed.’
She thought for a moment and then realisation dawned in her face.
She closed the door that led back into the café.
‘I can’t talk now.’
‘I wasn’t screwing Tony.’
‘He found something out.’
Tears were filling her eyes now and she dragged on her cigarette.
‘I love Harry.’
‘I would never want to lose him.’
‘If you don’t tell me you’re about to.’
‘You think this is about sex?’
‘That’s what it looks like.’
‘It wasn’t Tony.’
‘He found out about the kids.’
‘You’re not making a lot of sense.’
‘They’re not his.’
‘None of them?’
‘No. He wanted them so bad I gave them to him.’
‘So you screwed someone else.’
‘Not for sex. I’m a Catholic, I did it for Harry.’
‘That’s an interesting interpretation of the Bible.’
‘It’s the truth.’
‘So where does Tony fit into this?’
‘He knew. He got drunk, wanted a piece of me and threatened to tell Harry.’
‘I told Harry I’d stopped having periods.’
‘So what happened with Tony?’
‘You killed him.’
‘He was trying to rape me. All I could think of was how hard I’d worked to give Harry what he wanted and I reached behind me into the drawer and pulled out a kitchen knife. Tony started backing up but I knew he would tell Harry if I let him go and I just slid it under his neck and something in me kept pushing until he couldn’t talk no more.’
‘Well, he sure as fuck won’t be saying anything to Harry.’
‘What will you tell him?’
‘I’ll think of something.’
She leaned forward and kissed me.
‘You’re a good man.’
‘Don’t you believe it.’
‘I did it all for Harry.’
‘Just a good Catholic girl.’
I left her and walked round to the bar.
I ordered a large whisky and sat and drank it, savouring every bit of its warming brackish taste. I never did tell Harry.
I let him think it was some rival hotshot who Tony had fallen foul of. And there were plenty of them. He would piss people off with his big talk. Guys didn’t like the way their women took to him, and you see that was Tony’s problem, he was a little bit too full of himself.
They say the best way to depose someone is not to go for them directly, because their followers will come after you. You need to step into his shoes smelling clean.
And the best way to do that is study the guy’s weakness. And then use them against him. Tony’s weakness was women. They loved him but I knew one who wouldn’t play ball with him. And I knew the one time Tony wasn’t expecting a fight was when he was fucking or trying to fuck.
I’d wanted a piece of his action for a long time and sent him round to Sam’s that day, telling him she had the hots for him. I knew Sam real well. I also knew about the kids, had done for a long time. And I told Tony about them.
And I knew that once she’d confessed it, she’d live with the guilt. And that she’d never suspect me of being behind it all along.
You see, at school, she killed a boy for trying to get into her knickers. I’d covered for her that time, too, cause I didn’t like the kid, he was real smart ass, and I guess you could say the same for Tony, too.
Tony, who always underestimated women. Who never knew how many of them hated his guts for the way he used them and then bragged about his conquests.
BIO: Richard Godwin lives and writes in London, where his dark satire ‘The Cure-All’, about a group of confidence tricksters, has been produced on the stage. He has just finished writing a crime novel.